(February 18th to 29th)

Format: Triple

“I am not a fool, and why should the Sirkar say I am a child? I can see if the land is good and if the landlord is good. If I am a fool, the sin is upon my own head. For five years I take my ground for which I have saved money, and a wife I take too, and a little son is born … At the end of five years, by this new bundobust, I must go. If I do not go, I must get fresh seals and takkus-stamps on the papers, perhaps in the middle of the harvest, and to go to the law-courts once is wisdom, but to go twice is Jehannum.”


This is from “Tods’ Amendment” (1887) in Plain Tales from the Hills.

A new law on land tenure is under discussion. Tods, a six-year old boy, has heard from his friends iu the bazaar that it makes little sense for the farmers. Here Tods is telling the Legal Member of the Legislative Council of India how the people are criticising the Bill. After Tods has gone to bed, the Legal Member decides that Tods’ points make sense, and the Bill is amended.

He eats and hath indigestion,
He toils and he may not stop;
His life is a long-drawn question
Between a crop and a crop.


This is from “The Masque of Plenty” (1888) an angry poem written for the Pioneer of Allahabad when a Government commission reported that the condition of the Indian farmers
was not a great cause for concern.

“River, forsooth!” the man snorted. “What city do ye hail from not to know a canal-cut? It runs as straight as an arrow, and I pay for the water as though it were molten silver. There is a branch of a river beyond. But if ye need water I can give that— and milk.”


This is from Kim (p. 63). Kim and the Lama are wandering across the fields outside Umballa, looking for the River of the Arrow. Here they have been challenged by a farmer, for whom water is a sensitive issue. When he recognises the Lama as a holy man, be becomes more friendly.